Betrayal of public trust nets Democrat politician a slap on the wrist
Former state legislator Ben Arredondo has won a legal jackpot in avoiding prison time for his corrupt dealings, netting only 18 months of home confinement and three years probation on charges of public corruption. Additionally, he was fined $5,000 and ordered to pay $540 in restitution — proving that on occasion, crime does pay.
In issuing his light sentence, U.S. District Judge Frederick Martone noted Arredondo’s lack of previous criminal history, health and age as factors, and then bizarrely questioned whether the crimes would have been committed if there had not been a sting operation.
If stings are the culprit, it makes the entire AZSCAM debacle that rocked the Arizona legislature in the early 1990’s, resulting in the downfall of twenty legislators, lobbyists and political insiders seem meaningless. Several served prison sentences, paid hefty restitutions, and were given hundreds of hours of community service.
Ben Arredondo was indicted on federal counts of bribery, mail fraud, false statements and extortion in connection with soliciting and accepting thousands of dollars in sport and charity event tickets along with other perks from FBI undercover agents in exchange for brokering property deals. The crimes occurred while Arredondo was a Tempe City Council member.
In an October plea deal, Democrat Arredondo, 65, pleaded guilty in federal court to two felonies related to public corruption. Each felony count carries a maximum prison sentence of up to 20 years and $250,000 in fines. Up to $50,000 in restitution could also apply. The plea deal included his resignation from the Arizona Legislature.
The plea agreement recommended that he be sentenced to between 27 months and 51 months in prison.
Previously in May 2012, Arredondo pleaded not guilty, but ultimately changed his plea when faced with the mounting body of evidence against him. Still, his lawyer called the charges against his client “manufactured,” and referred to him as “a dedicated public official targeted by the government in D.C.” He said, “Ben Arredondo is not for sale.”
At the time, we questioned why the liberal Obama administration would target a kindred AZ House member.
After serving 16 years on the Tempe City Council, Arredondo was elected to the Arizona House of Representatives in 2010.
The corrupt Arredondo solicited donations for a college scholarship fund he had ostensibly set up for needy students and then provided nearly $50,000 from the account to help his own relatives attend Arizona colleges.
Despite the evidence against him, Democrat short-termer U.S. Rep. Harry Mitchell, wrote an absurd letter to the court, in which he compared this crook to President Abraham Lincoln.
It obviously worked.
The 10-page May 16, 2012 indictment (courtesy of the AZ Capitol Times) can be read here.